Being more than a leader – being a passionate guide: the importance of a good work-life balance

Article December 2019

Student-Authors of the course Basic Leadership Skills – Fall 2019
Passionate Guides community:
Celine Freund (Germany), Giuseppe Iacovino (Italy), Julius Korkea-aho (Finland), Nadine Haibt (Germany), Nina Roi (France), Ombeline Lacroix (France) – Marcella Zoccoli (JAMK University of Applied Sciences)

Student Editor-in-chief Fall 2019: Nadine Haibt

Being more than a leader – being a passionate guide: the importance of a good work-life balance

 “Take care of yourself: When you don’t sleep, eat crap, don’t exercise, and are living off adrenaline for too long, your performance suffers. Your decisions suffer. Your company suffers. Love those close to you: Failure of your company is not failure in life. Failure in your relationship is.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                           ―Ev Williams, co-founder of Medium and Twitter

Over the last decades due to technology and business improvements work-life has become faster than it used to be. Leaders must be reachable throughout the whole day and even on weekends. Due to advanced technology, it is easier to be permanently at work and a physical location for work no longer exists. In order to stay productive and healthy, leaders need to take care of their work-life balance. They often tend to think about work all the time and forget about the most important thing in their life – relationships.


In focus: the passionate guide

To define the word phrase ‘passionate guides’, the two words should be first explained separately. ‘Passionate’ comes from the word ‘passion’ and means “a very powerful feeling, for example of sexual attraction, love, hate, anger, or other emotion” (Cambridge Dictionary 2019). Transferred to an adjective it describes a person with very strong feelings towards something. In this paper, the feelings are about the company, success, and leadership. Passionate people also “work hard, they trust their intuition and they persevere” (Henri 2016). They have characteristics like courage, growth-orientation, self-motivation and most important for our topic non-balance (Henri 2016). They are often really into their work, so they forget to rest or also don’t want to or even can’t rest.

The word ‘guide’ describes “one that leads or directs another’s way” or “a person who directs another’s conduct or course of life” (Merriam Webster 2019). A guide is someone who shows his/her followers the way but let them walk alone and let them do their tasks in their own way. If they need help, he/she also assists them and gives pieces of information that are necessary to succeed during the path.

Thus, a guide is a leader, and as pointed about by Adair (2016), the “Modern English lead is related to Old English words meaning ‘a way, a journey’ and ‘to travel’. It is a journey word. If you are not on a journey, don’t bother with leadership – just settle for management’’.

Putting those words together, you can say a ‘passionate guide’ is a person, who goes to great lengths to reach his/her goals. Those guides are very enthusiastic about their work and this is also something their followers can feel. Passionate leaders-guides are really into their work, that’s why they have a problem with their work-life balance. One of the characteristics of passionate leaders-guides is non-balance. They can work for many hours straight without a break, but this is not good for their physical and mental health and for their social life. That is why it is so important that passionate guides learn to have a good work-life balance practice.


Finding the right work-life balance

There is no general solution in finding the right work-life balance. The decision is made by everyone on their own based on their situation and values. Therefore, it can also vary daily according to changing the environment and family structure. Splitting work and personal life equally is not possible. To have a schedule with fixed hours is unrealistic in practice. As stated by Bird (2003) work-life balance can be explained as “Achievement and Enjoyment”. These two concepts should answer the question of WHY we are doing something. It is about the meaning behind our behaviors.

Enjoyment is equal to pride, love and a sense of well-being, and he describes that neither Enjoyment nor Achievement exists without the other part. It is the problem of most successful guides that they are living without Enjoyment and hence are not happy at all. Finding the right work-life balance is about achieving and enjoying something daily in work, family, friends, and self.

A good work-life balance helps guides to stay motivated and perform better at their job. They can focus more productively on the given tasks and can give their best to inspire their employees and people.


Finding solutions – methods to rest

As already mentioned above, passionate guides are absorbed and embedded in their work; they forget sometimes everything around them.

  • How to cope with the work-life balance challenge?

There are different methods and practices.

First, it is very important that leaders-guides set boundaries and work hours. There must be a strict separation between social life, like friends, family and hobbies and work life. Therefore, it is very important that guides have clear working hours and that they also can switch off their phones after work and don’t have to be accessible all the time. They also should avoid thinking about work and upcoming projects all the time, so it’s a good idea to use a separate phone and computer for work. Priorities and goals should also be well set. Priorities should always involve their own happiness and health and the relationship to friends and family, as well. Goals must be set achievable and the guides should be passionate about them (Schooley 2019).

Another method to improve the work-life balance is not only good for the guides, but also for his followers. The office environment has a big influence on this topic and many of them must be improved. People work better and are more successful if they like their environment and if they feel comfortable. Some resting areas with coaches, a TV, free energy drinks and games are a good idea. The employees but also the guides can make a break thereafter hard and stressful hours of work and can calm down and relax. They even have more power after such a break and are more motivated to go back to work. It could be also an area where to talk about work is forbidden. The passionate leaders-guides need an environment, in which they can completely get away from their problems during work, otherwise, they just keep thinking about it (Newman 2018).

Passionate guides are so focused on their work, that it’s hard for them to delegate tasks to someone else. They want to have control over everything. But in a big company, it is impossible that one person can do everything by their own. So, another method is about how the guides should handle their teams or employees. They should delegate some work to others. That’s why it is very important that guides have a good team, which they can trust. They need to practice what they preached. So, the employees understand them and their goals and do their best to support the leadership process (Kiger 2018). In this way, it’s easier to relax in their free time and go on holiday and not thinking about work all the time. They know that they have people, who are doing their job good and they can count on them.

Additionally,  other forms of  ’’resting’’ methods  for passionate guides work-life balance can also be found among those  ”mindful movement’’ as listed in the report of the Global Wellness Institute, ‘’Move to be Well: The Global Economy of Physical Activity’’ (2018): ’’In our frenetically paced, stressful, sleepless and chronic-pain-plagued world, the demand for slower, mindful movement—which includes yoga, Pilates, tai chi, qigong, stretch, barre, Gyro tonic, etc.—is skyrocketing. Of the world’s population, 3.8 percent now regularly participates in mindful movement, spending on average $101/year. While the market is now concentrated in wealthier countries, practices are spreading fast throughout the world’’.


Finding solutions – Participative Leadership

A way for guides to find the right balance and to decrease stress is by acting according to the participative leadership style. It picks up the idea of building on and trusting the team as described in the section above. It may seem a bit different to the other leadership styles at first as it has nothing in common with hierarchical styles, but it is a good approach within the corporate world. The theory focuses on the involvement of different participants and is based on Kurt Lewin´s laissez-faire style but has influences from Maslow’s theory of human motivation as well (Anastasia 2016).

The theory encourages the subordinates to give input and being involved, but the guide is still in charge of the decision-making. Therefore, the guide gets consulting support and the team can decide which tasks are done by whom. Certain objectives are discussed altogether so there is less pressure on the guide. On the other hand, he/she still has full control of things. Tasks can be delegated or are set on the go.

Participative leadership is an approach to encourage others and facilitate conversations. It gives a platform to encourage idea collaboration and work as a team. Therefore, overall work morale can be improved, and the guide will experience both, achievement and enjoyment during work life.



Passionate Guides/Leaders need to be aware of their own work-life balance. Having success is most of the time connected with not being satisfied or happy. Being passionate and having a commitment towards the employees or, moreover the followers, is a good characteristic but can be difficult too. Therefore, they should ask themselves what they want to achieve and what they want to enjoy. Finding rest and calm during work life is an important approach as encouraging and delegating team members is essential in order to stay productive and happy. With the methods described above, passionate guides can really improve their work-life balance. Of course, it is hard work to find a good inner balance, to build up a good team and to trust people, but in the end, it’s worth it. Life isn´t about work it´s about the relationships and quality of life itself.



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